Nicaragua Urban Region

The Location


The Population


The Religion

Roman Catholic

The Weather

  • Unemployment in the cities is high, and families do whatever they can to earn a living. This boy does his homework while tending his family’s street-side vending stall. Nicaragua Child Sitting Under Shelter
  • After they have washed their hands, these children line up to receive a healthful snack at their Compassion-assisted center. Nicaragua Children Outside the Center
  • Heaps of garbage are common sights in the cities. These children are cleaning up garbage around their Compassion center, setting a good example about keeping the environment clean. Nicaragua Boys Working in the Dirt
  • Compassion’s church partners strive to lead children to spiritual transformation by introducing them to salvation in Christ. Nicaragua Children Praying
  • These children are learning how to be good stewards of the environment by planting trees and bushes at their Compassion-assisted center. Nicaragua Children Watering Plants
  • It is rare to see water flowing during the day. Typically, water is available for only a few hours at night. Nicaragua Water Spigot

Overview: Urban Nicaragua

Nicaragua is a beautiful Central American country located between Honduras and Costa Rica. Managua, the capital and largest city, has nearly 2 million people and is located on the southwestern shore of Lake Managua. Nicaragua has highly unequal income distribution levels and a high rate of poverty, with nearly half the population living in poverty. The county is also extremely vulnerable to natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, drought, flooding and hurricanes. Yet Nicaragua has a colorful, positive culture and its people have a tremendous amount of courage and resilience.

Almost every rainy season the barrios, or slum areas, suffer from flooding. To cope, people living here have constructed makeshift canals, but those become choked with garbage and infested with disease. There are very few job opportunities in these areas. Women typically do domestic work and men find jobs in factories. Most people earn about $3 or $4 a day.

Freedom of religion is provided by the Nicaraguan constitution. While the country does not have a state religion, the Roman Catholic Church is the most politically active religious institution and has significant political influence.


Culture Corner

Nicaragua Culture

Did you Know?

Baseball is the most popular sport in Nicaragua. The Nicaraguan baseball team won fourth place in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

The largest natural lake in Central America, Lake Nicaragua, is located in Nicaragua. It is the water supply for the many communities around the lake.

Since Nicaragua has two coasts on opposite sides of the country, you can swim in the Atlantic Ocean in the morning and take a dip in the Pacific in the evening!


Life in Urban Nicaragua

About 3 million Nicaraguans live in urban centers, such as the capital city, Managua. The majority of these people are poor, working at whatever jobs they can find to support their families. Many have low-paying factory jobs. Others are street vendors or maids in wealthier households.

However, in this country, the poorest in Central America, few urban families are able to provide for their children’s basic needs. They can’t afford regular, nutritious meals or the supplies required for children to attend school. Their homes are crowded, makeshift structures accommodating many people.

Because of the poverty and lack of job opportunities in Nicaragua, many people leave the country, seeking employment elsewhere. As a result, homes are torn apart and children have little family stability.

Children at Home

Many Compassion-assisted child development centers serve people living in the barrios, many of which lack electricity and running water. Houses are very close together and everything — music, talking and arguing — can be heard from the home next door. Homes here typically have two or three rooms and house between five and 10 family members.


Community Issues and Concerns Nicaragua Community

Since household incomes are very low, many families suffer malnutrition because they can’t afford nutritious food. In order to put food on the table, some parents are forced to leave the country to look for higher-paying jobs, and as a result children often live with grandparents or other extended family. Gangs can be a problem in the barrios, as well as alcohol and drug abuse.

Local Needs and Challenges

Urban life is full of challenges for Nicaragua’s children. Public services, like water and garbage collection, are sporadic. Children often suffer the results of the unsanitary environment, but parents can’t afford medical help when they become ill. Also, with widespread family disintegration, urban children are vulnerable to domestic abuse. Compassion’s program seeks to address and remove these challenges from the lives of assisted children so that they can grow into happy, healthy, responsible Christian adults.


Schools and Education Nicaragua Education

Nicaraguan society is largely undereducated — students take an average of 10.3 years to complete the mandatory six years of schooling. Up to a fourth of school-age children are not in school, and many do not finish high school. Fewer enter or complete university.

There is a need for better school facilities; some classrooms have up to 50 students packed into them. Most children live near their school so they can walk to class; those who do not take the bus. Compassion Nicaragua works to ensure that every registered child is able to attend elementary school, and it provides additional support, including tutoring, at the child development centers.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

Child development centers in urban communities provide registered children with a place to learn, grow and study. Children are given hope and are taught to believe that they can live out their dreams. Every effort is made for each child to clearly understand the message and love of Jesus Christ. Centers also provide opportunities for involvement by the parents or guardians of sponsored children, and children spend time writing to and praying for their sponsors.


Working Through the Local Church

Compassion partners with local churches throughout Nicaragua to operate child development centers. This partnership empowers the churches to be witnesses of Christ’s love in their communities. Local churches know well their communities and the challenges that their neighbors face. Like Compassion, they are eager to reach children and families for Christ.

Many parents initially enroll their children in the church’s Compassion program for the material benefits. But when they begin to see the spiritual changes in their children and the difference that biblical values make in their lives, parents are open to the gospel message themselves. In Nicaragua, Compassion and the local church is a dynamic partnership that is changing entire families!

How Compassion Works in Nicaragua Compassion in Nicaragua

Compassion began registering children in Nicaragua in 1974. Compassion Nicaragua’s first church partners were located in and around Managua, Nicaragua's capital city. Currently, more than 41,000 children participate in 151 child development centers. Compassion partners with churches to help them provide Nicaraguan children with the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all that God has created them to be.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

“I believe God brought me to this ministry,” says Winston Pérez, a Partnership Facilitator for Compassion Nicaragua. Describing his role, he says, “I have the responsibility to be the connection between the partner church and Compassion.” Currently, he oversees 11 church-based Compassion centers.

Winston believes his responsibility for selecting new churches for Compassion partnership is especially important. “I look for churches committed to children and their development. An effective partnership can impact children, and through them, entire families.”

He adds, “God knows my heart’s passion is working with children. For more than three years, I was a center director at a local church. Now working for the Compassion national office, I have the opportunity to share with even more children.”


Prayer Requests

  • Pray that the children would open their hearts to the Lord.
  • Pray for more schools for the barrios.
  • Pray for more jobs, which are scarce here.
  • Pray for child development center teams to continue working in unity.